Scientists unravel Arctic disappearing reservoir mystery

Scientists unravel Arctic disappearing reservoir mystery

April 03, 2023

In 2021, in five days, the water from lake Spartakovskoye on Novaya Zemlya completely descended into the sea.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Scientists from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) have found explanations for the water disappearing in lake Spartakovskoye on the Bolshevik island of the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, which is located north of the Taimyr peninsula in the Krasnoyarsk region on the border of the Kara sea and the Laptev sea. Every 8–10 years, a reservoir can lose up to 250 million cubic meters of water per day.

Spartakovskoye is the eastern part of the sea fiord, which is blocked by a glacier descending to the north from the Semenov-Tyan-Shansky dome. The reservoir length is almost five kilometers, the width is up to 900 meters, the depth at the glacier dam is 100 meters. In August 2021, the water from the lake almost completely disappeared in 117 hours (about five days), which had never happened before.

As the AARI scientists explained, the accumulation of water in Spartakovskoye is due to the Semenov-Tyan-Shansky and Voitsehovsky glaciers melting and depends on the summer heat amount. The so-called summer heat flows to Severnaya Zemlya are repeated every five to ten years.

The water in the lake accumulates unevenly. After reaching the maximum level, a part of the glacier, which blocks the way of water to the sea, emerges under the water influence. The glacier collapses and emerges in the lake in the form of icebergs, the under-ice channels open, and the water begins to descend into the sea.

“The floating and destroyed icebergs in the form of rings and channels showed that there are tunnels in the glacier body, through which water flows from the lake. When the water level drops, many channels close again, in winter the water in the channels freezes again, and the lake lives for several years in anticipation of the next critical rise in the water level”, the university specialists explained.

Scientists believe that fluctuations in the water level in Spartakovskoye and a complete descent in 2021 may indicate that the reservoir will completely disappear, like other glacial lakes, as a result of climate warming. But the revival of the lake due to new phases of glaciation in the Arctic is also possible.

Earlier, in the mountain lakes of the Putorana plateau, scientists found an unknown species of crustaceans, and British researchers accidentally discovered a third form of amorphous ice. Also, the This Is Taimyr wrote about the first major study of life in the waters of the Arctic.

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Text: Anzhelika Stepanova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko

April 03, 2023

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